Dining alone is not much fun – even, and especially if you happen to be in the most romantic city in the world.
You’ll note that the French love to eat together. Café conversations are intense and lengthy. If you do see a Parisian alone in a café or on the street, he or she is probably having an animated conversation on his or her mobile phone.
So, the challenge is to find a café/restaurant or bar where you as a non-French-speaking visitor can sit down and feel instantly at home. This past week, I struck gold twice.
You’ll remember a few weeks ago I mentioned the Bombardier Pub as the ideal spot for homesick Anglos to tie into a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding Sunday meal, but what if you’re not at all homesick? You want to enjoy a French meal in a non-formal setting.
Never fear – there’s Le Plan B.
Café Le Plan B at 89 Rue Daguerre in the 14eme arrondissement is yet another reason why I am quickly becoming a Rue Daguerre habituée. Anthony, the owner, also amiably mans the bar. This is a non-fussy, non-‘design’ café where you can sit at the bar or at a table and feel like you’re at your local bar. The difference is that most everyone is speaking French (even another one of Anthony’s local clients who happens to be American).
Anthony is totally bi-lingual and happy to speak English to non-French speakers (“My wife is part Irish” was his explanation).
At 9:45 pm, I was able to order a huge salad (12 Euros), a glass of Rose (3 Euros) and an expresso (2 Euros) with enough caffeine to see you through the whole night of clubbing (or blogging, in my case).
My ‘Plan A’ is to go back and try out some other meals. On occasion, they do have live music including accordeon music.
Rue Mouffetard a la Carte
After Rue Daguerre, Rue Mouffetard is quickly becoming my second favorite pedestrian walkway in Paris. I’ve mentioned in past posts that the upper section of Rue Mouffetard (around Place de la Contrescarpe) is very touristy, but be sure to walk to the lower section (where you can catch the Metro: Censier Daubertin). As you walk down the hill, you’ll note Nina Kendosa’s boutique on your left, the Young and Happy Hostel on your right, but where should you eat if your dining alone?
I really didn’t expect to find any astounding cuisine in this neighborhood, much less tasty take-out, but I actually stumbled upon a place which happens to be the best of both worlds – take-out, or sit-down catering establishment called La Table d’Orphée on Rue des Bazeilles (which connects Rue Mouffetard with Ave des Gobelins). If you’re walking from Rue Mouffetard, you’ll see La Table d’Orphée just after you’ve crossed over from St. Medard Church (stay on your left).
The Table d’Orphée has only been in business since November ’07, so Parisgirl feels lucky to taste some of their goodies while the concept is still fresh. ‘We have various chefs and we encourage them to try out different combinations’. For example, the ‘sandwich’ I tried was a flaky crusted ‘empanada’ filled with turkey and chorizo.
Another nice concept for non-French speakers, you can look at the samplings in the front window – just as you would do at the bakery. What really topped off this experience, the friendly intern suggested a good wine. She served the wine by bringing out the corked bottle along with an attractive glass to the table. Because La Table d’Orphée is located just a ways south of the Rue Mouffetard fray, I was able to sip this glass of wine outdoors, enjoy the surroundings, and chat with some neighborhood residents who had popped in to purchase some take out.
While, I was enjoying the meal, the cook placed a new batch of puff-pastry filled savories for me to consider. These were decorated with dollar signs – but I think I’ll wait until he brings out the next batch decorated with Euros so I can compare currencies.
Don’t miss the Table d’Orphée 18 Euros Brunch:
Fresh bread with butter and jam.
Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
Or the Plate of the Day
Or Risotto with truffles.
La Table D’Orphee
5, Rue Bazeilles
75005 Paris, France
+33 1 45 87 20 91
Le Plan B Cafe
89 Rue Daguerre
Metro: Gaite (walk down Avenue du Maine past the cemetery)
Tel. 01 44 20 20 09
Note: Parisian Kareen from www.restoaparis.com has also tested this restaurant. You’ll see her savoring a delicious meal at Plan B on the above link. Yet ANOTHER beautiful Parisian.
Photos by Chris Card Fuller ©2008